Wednesday, February 22, 2012

South From Alaska - an interview with Mike Litzow

I have a penchant for nautica extrema - which, in all likelihood is a made up expression. It essentially translates as 'excellent sailing stories' - so when I saw South From Alaska; Sailing to Australia with a baby for crew - I was pretty impressed.   Then the publicist from New South Books emailed me to advise that the author, Mike wasn't just 'somewhere' in Australia, he was in fact in Hobart with Alisa his wife and their 'baby' Elias, who was ten months old when they left Kodiak in Alaska for Australia. Elias is now five years old - and has been joined by another seafaring baby, Eric, who is one year old.
     The book is great, it has the wonderful multi layered flow that I think a good travel narrative should have; story of the journey itself, story of the inner journey - or what the experience of the travel means to those travelling it - and how it transforms and changes them. It also tells of the places visited - and these storylines meld with ease.
   In our conversation - which first went to air on Edge Radio's Book Show on February 21st, Mike and I discuss some of his and his family's trials and joys, their visit to the mythic Marquesas, a group of islands in the Pacific who lived under ritualised warfare between valleys for centuries and is now shot through with (stereo?)typical Polynesian friendliness. We discussed some of the friendships that can develop in the intensive environment of the boat and I learnt a  wonderfully self explanatory Alaskan expression "end of the roaders," - a lot of whom can be found on sailing boats and in remote regions of the world.  Oh - and we talked about new translations of Tolstoy's War and Peace.And of course we talked about what makes traveling with a child - and traveling with a child on a boat different from traveling alone.
You can listen to the full interview here and read Mike and Alisa's blog Twice in a Lifetime here.

South From Alaska
by Mike Litzow
New South Books
9781742233017

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